August 5, 2019
Today’s entrepreneurs have a wealth of technology at their disposal. Technology is part of a bigger solution for helping build out small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that launch, manage, monetize, and will sustain their disruptive ideas. Sustained competitive advantage comes from empowering human ingenuity to build on and extend the base capabilities that technology offers.
Just because an entrepreneur has developed the next big thing doesn’t mean they have to reinvent the wheel. When it comes to financial, logistical, inventory, project management, and customer service experience platforms—the right tech will make all the difference. An entrepreneur has to be able to rely on trusted technology solutions partners to deliver what the business needs for those SMB building blocks.
The same business building blocks work within a platform for eCommerce. Nothing better illustrates the value Magento delivers to entrepreneurs and enterprises than talking to one of our loyal customers.
Recently, our team sat down with John Rampton, a serial entrepreneur who has successfully founded and built companies on Magento. Rampton transitioned his former company Organize.com from Yahoo Stores over to Magento to build a $100 Million company.
Rampton is currently the founder and CEO of Calendar, a time management platform.
As a serial entrepreneur what made you choose the Magento eCommerce platform?
Over the years of creating, launching, and growing B2B startups and I have learned a lot about what my customers expect from an online experience. Now more than ever these online experiences require personalization. This personalization is best achieved in the form of rich and relevant content—instant purchase options—and a frictionless and seamless transaction process. Customers require ease of use whether they are on their desktop, laptop, or mobile device.
Like many of you reading this post, I built my business on another platform. Organize.com had been built and coded on the old legacy code, on Yahoo Stores—for almost 10 years. This was painful. We had no integrations with our shipping partners, and we had to print off each order by hand and take it over to accounting.
Accounting would then manually enter the data into our system and also by hand in the FedEx system—to sync with Amazon. Basically, manually entering information into two different places. I met with several different platforms as well as other large eCommerce companies.
We decided the best option to automate our business was to build on a platform that allowed us to quickly iterate, grow and scale our operations with the right extensions. Automation wasn’t even possible on our original platform. We estimated automation would save us the equivalent of four full-time employees.
Magento delivered above and beyond our expectations. We were able to save a ton of money and our customers immediately got the information on their orders. We cut down on incorrect information by almost 90 percent in a matter of weeks.
How do you see B2B eCommerce expanding in the next couple of years?
B2B eCommerce will follow a similar pathway to that of consumer eCommerce. There will be personalization, on-demand options, and expanded payment methods. Already, we are employing artificial intelligence (AI). This means that augmented reality (AR) and Internet of Things (IoT) devices will become a larger part of the eCommerce environment. B2B will be able to deliver everything from products, subscription services, and professional services through an eCommerce portal.
How essential is community in driving the success of a tech company?
Community is everything when it comes to the success of a tech company—or any other company today. We have to be able to get the solutions my companies offer into the hands of a larger audience. These varied audiences are already using other types of technology—which then demands the ability to integrate with all types of tools and platforms.
Integration is the key that drives the need for collaborative relationships with other companies. Collaborative tech has to be in place so that a community of developers can work together within an open-source environment.
Beyond sharing code, this community is also a creative hub for information, ideas, and innovation. This super-tech-hub enhanced my company’s technology leading to even better platforms and tools for everyone involved.
What specific features of the Magento platform were of particular interest to you and why?
The specific features that attracted me to Magento included the ability to personalize and customize the eCommerce experience. We required the ability to tailor an experience into my product offerings while delivering to my audience’s expectations.
I love the ability to sync pricing with Amazon and export directly new purchases to my FedEx and UPS accounts. This was a nightmare entering this information manually in the past.
Additionally, the fact that the code is open source—and has APIs—means my development team could quickly integrate. Magento into the systems we already had.
What eCommerce platform did you previously use—and what were the challenges that led you to choose Magento?
I previously used Yahoo Stores platform. There were many challenges on our platform that made it difficult to scale and work with potential customers who were from all over the world. Also, there were no personalization capabilities—and the platform didn’t seem to align with the rest of the technology we used. We really wanted, and needed, to be able to integrate everything into our platform.
URL structure was set. There was no ability to export different things and it didn’t work with many platforms to optimize our Amazon Seller Central account, etc. Lots of nightmares I highlighted above.
Another big issue involved security problems and downtime due to bugs and technical problems. Our developers were under a great deal of stress and spent way too much of their time on fixes. I couldn’t have this lack of reliability impact the customer experience.
Which features of the Magento platform are helping you grow your business?
For me, the entire Magento eCommerce solution has driven our business growth. We can now deliver a seamless experience—where customers can easily select and pay for their subscription level.
The ability to quickly add content for promotions or seasonal events has provided a further boost. Having a fast and reliable option allows rapid customer base expansion. We are continuing to realize this success month over month.
Additionally, the new integration and automation with Magento stores and Amazon/eBay makes it easier than ever to list each product with up to date inventories.
Having attended Imagine, is there a common thread in terms of what brands/merchants are looking for in their eCommerce platforms?
The common thread is an incredibly personalized and frictionless eCommerce experience. Merchants have to be able to track, analyze, manage, and respond to individual customers, quickly. We have to have specific content, promotions and effortless payment and delivery options.
The more tightly a platform can integrate the entire eCommerce process into all aspects of their business—the better the business will succeed. With tight integration, the business can now excel at developing and executing on their personalization strategies.
What is your top tip for other entrepreneurs like yourself that need a reliable, robust, and scalable eCommerce platform?
Take your time finding the right eCommerce platform partner. I rushed it the first time around with the previous provider. It wasted a lot of money and even worse, a lot of time. Don’t rush. Just don’t. Make sure the solution you find is right for your business today and as it grows
I should have spent more time researching what platforms were out there and what they offered in terms of my customers’ needs. I should have considered how much of a long-term vision the platform provider was looking at—and asked how they would continue to address those value points.
Seek an eCommerce solutions provider who wants to be your long-term partner rather than just sell you a platform. I also tend to gravitate to platforms that have been around awhile and have established a base. It’s also a lot easier to find extensions that work for every aspect of your business.
Magento has become that partner for me and they continue to provide additional features to scale up and enhance the experience we offer our B2B customers.